Nick Maimone doesn't leave the comfort of home and his online grind very often, so it's important to make it count when he does. That's exactly what he did in the $25,000 High Roller at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, taking the whole thing down after a chop with Sean Winter that paid Maimone an adjusted amount of $996,480.
Maimone, known as "FU_15" in the online realm, has had one of the most lucrative careers in online tournament history with more than $6.6 million in total cashes, according to PocketFives. His live career has paled by comparison with $881,218 coming into this event, and Maimone said that isn't by accident, as he much prefers to grind peacefully online in his relocated home at an undisclosed location outside the United States.
One exception to his light travel schedule is PCA, which he said is convenient because it isn't far from where he lives. Last year, Maimone chopped a $5,300 event here with former World Series of Poker champ Jonathan Duhamel for a tidy $112,972. This year, he did far better, though his initial goals were rather modest. Going into the final table fourth of nine after satelliting in for $2,700, Maimone said anything better than fifth would have left him feeling pretty positive.
"My plan was just to play really tight and solid going in and hope a couple of short stacks would bust because all of the ladders were huge," he said.
That all changed in one huge hand, the first big one of Day 3. Maimone watched Anton Astapau, the shortest stack, shove all in for about 16 big blinds under the gun. Italian high roller Dario Sammartino called in the next spot, but Maimone noticed something.
"He didn't look crazy about it," Maimone recalled, which led him into his standard thought process when the preflop decision is approaching. "I like to think about beforehand, what hands am I going to get involved with?"
His determination was that aces, kings, queens, and maybe jacks were going to be playable. As it would happen, he looked down at two jacks and decided to go ahead and get it in. Sammartino made a crying call with nines, Astapau held tens, and the jacks held.
Suddenly, Maimone was the chip leader with nearly 90 big blinds and his plan had changed. He began to get more aggressive and more willing to gamble, and that's just what he did as he won numerous flips en route to knocking out every player to get the tournament four-handed with Winter, Sammartino, and 2015 WSOP Main Event runner-up Josh Beckley.
Maimone tangled in a big pot with the latter on a board reading . Beckley checked to Maimone on the river, and he bet 525,000 into a pot of about 1.2 million holding the for a straight flush to the king. Beckley check-raised all in for 1.225 million, but rather than snap-call, Maimone pulled out one of the oldest and most frowned-upon tricks in the book.
"He just kind of bothered me a few times yesterday and today, just his demeanor rubbed me the wrong way" Maimone explained. "I said, 'Aw, this is a tough one.' I think I asked him how many chips he had, like a jerk."
After Maimone called and Beckley tabled his , Maimone revealed his ruse and Beckley could only shake his head and walk to payouts.
Maimone then finished a clean sweep of the final table by eliminating Sammartino and Winter, the latter coming after a deal that saw the payouts split almost evenly with both players taking north of $900,000.
Never known as much of a live grinder, Maimone said this win won't change things. He's committed to grinding online and prefers to focus on splitting time between that, charity work in his adopted home, and his soon-to-be three-person family — his wife is due to give birth in May. Maimone said he may hit European Poker Tour Monte Carlo and the WSOP, but other than that, it's back to the online grind and business as usual for FU_15.